Spinach is a kind of green leafy vegetable from the family Amaranthaceae; it’s native to Central and Southwestern Asia that grows up to 1 foot of height. Its taste may be slightly bitter but it’s one of the most nutritional foods due to its nutritional value and many more benefits for both health and beauty. We can get this vegetable throughout the year but is mainly grown from March to May.
If you ask a kid about spinach he’ll say that it is the secret behind Popeye, the sailor man’s muscles and his strength to fight. It is such a super food that contains high nutritional value than any other foods on this planet. It is very rich in vitamin A, B2, C and K along with few minerals like manganese, magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium and folate. So, let’s get deep into it and see how this super food benefits us.
Nutritional Value of Spinach
As said before spinach is a power food with carbohydrates, fibers (both soluble and insoluble), sugar, sodium, vitamins, minerals, water and amino acids.
1. Vitamin A: When it comes to vitamin A, you can easily name spinach. It provides around 943 mg of vitamin A which is 105% of daily RDA, i.e., Recommended Daily Allowance for men while 135% of RDA for women. But it is important to note that over consumption can lead to its toxicity. It is always better to consume in required amounts.
2. Vitamin C: The vital vitamin or antioxidant, vitamin C is required for growth as well as cell repair. Our body cannot store these vitamins and should be consumed as a routine. Just a single cup of cooked spinach gives you about 17.6 mg or around 20% of required amount for men and 23% for women.
3. Water: It provides almost 164 grams of water from single cup of cooked spinach which is equivalent to 5 oz. Since most of our body consists of water, it is important keep it hydrated always. Consuming enough amounts of spinach can keep your body and your skin hydrated and healthy always.
4. Iron: Iron is an important component of hemoglobin which is a protein present in red blood cells (RBC). A single cup of this vegetable can give 6 ½ mg. This is equivalent to about 81% of required amount for men and 36% for women.
5. Magnesium: Magnesium is one of important minerals since it has healing properties. A cup of cooked spinach can give 157 mg of it i.e., 37% of required amount for men and 49% of required amount for women.
6. Oxalic Acid: Spinach cannot be consumed raw since it contains toxic oxalic acid which inhibits the body’s ability to absorb calcium. That is why it is essential to cook spinach and then consume it.
Types of Spinach
Actually there are two types of this vegetable which are savoy type and flat leaf type. Savoy type has dark green crinkle leaves while flat leaf type has smooth surface. Recently another type of spinach was introduced which is called semi savoy type that grows very rapidly and can’t bolt so easily like the others in warm environment. Compared to this type, the older types of spinach are stronger and bitter.
1. Savoy Spinach: As said before it has dark green crinkly leaves which yet again has several types like ‘Bloomsdale’; this one is also bolt resistant.
2. Flat Leaf Spinach: The leaves of this type are broad and smooth, and so it’s very easy to clean them.
3. Semi-Savoy Spinach: This one is a new invention hybrid type which is neither crinkly nor smooth; its texture lies somewhere in between.
Health Benefits of Spinach
1. Weight Loss
Spinach consists of many nutrients but has low calories and fats due to which it helps in weight loss. The fat soluble fiber present in spinach helps in proper digestion and prevents constipation. Due to high fiber content it makes you feel full and so prevents overeating. So spinach is recommended to those who want to lose weight.
There are more than a dozen of flavonoids present in spinach which helps in reducing inflammation caused by any kind of illness. Neoxanthin and violaxanthin are two anti-inflammatory epoxyxanthophylls which regulate inflammation; and these are found in spinach. That is why it can prevent inflammation especially due to arthritis, headaches, asthma and osteoporosis.
Spinach is anti-carcinogenic due to its richness in flavonoids which are phytonutrients. This phytonutrient slows down the cell division process in stomach and skin cancer cells. This green leafy vegetable also prevents aggressive prostate cancer. In a recent study it was proved that spinach provided better protection from this cancer compared to other vegetables such as Broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage.
4. Healthy Eyes
There are two types of antioxidants namely lutein and ziaxanthin which are known to protect eyes. Spinach consists of these two antioxidants in good amount and so it can prevent eye problems like cataract, age related macular degeneration (ARMD). Zeaxanthin, a carotenoid gets absorbed by the retinal macula lutea present in your eyes has light filtering properties which is required for better vision. To keep mucus membrane healthy and maintain healthy eye sight, vitamin A is essential and this can be found in spinach.
5. Healthy Bones
Spinach is a rich source of vitamin K which is essential for healthy bones. Just a single cup of spinach can provide almost 1000% of required amount of this vitamin. It effectively lowers and controls overly activated osteoclasts. These cells help in breaking down the structure of your bone. It also helps in promoting Osteoclacin synthesis in the body which is essential to maintain bone density and strength. If you do not want to take dairy products then spinach can be good alternative to calcium; thus it can also prevent osteoporosis. Spinach is also a good alternative to get enough proteins for vegetarians to support muscle tissue building and collagen growth.
6. Alkalizes Body
If you are consuming more acidic food, then it may drain your body energy levels, make you obese, and attract other health problems. Spinach is an alkaline vegetable which can balance your body pH to keep you healthy.
7. Lowers Hypertension
Hypertension results in many health problems like heart stroke, kidney problems, etc. Constituents in spinach help in reducing stress and anxiety due to which hypertension level lowers down. The nutrients in spinach balance the sodium and potassium level by lowering the potassium quantity. Vitamin C in spinach also helps greatly in lowering BP.
8. Prevents Heart Attack and Atherosclerosis
When excessive fat deposits on the artery wall, thickening of arteries happen as a result of which they harden. This condition is called as Atherosclerosis, a cause of heart attack. Lutein prevents this thickening of arteries and so reduces the risk of heart attack. There is another high quality nitrite present in spinach which helps in curing heart diseases due to fat deposition besides preventing the same.
9. Improves Gastro-Intestinal Health
The antioxidants, vitamin C and beta carotene fight against free radicals which damage the body parts like colon cells. Folate in spinach also prevents DNA damage and mutations in your colon cells.
10. Improves Nervous Health
To stay intelligent and keep your brain health well, spinach is necessary since its regular consumption keeps it active and young always. Vitamin C, K and folate modulates production of hormones of nervous system. Vitamin K helps in the synthesis of sphingolipids, a kind of fats that form the myelin sheath on the nerves. This way spinach also helps in correcting cognitive issues.
11. Relaxes Body
Spinach has many compounds that help in reducing the stress level. Magnesium and zinc in it helps in calming you down and sleep properly. This way spinach can help your body relax.
12. Helps In Calcification
Vitamin K is required for calcification that is present in spinach in good quantity since it helps in carboxylation which produces the matric Gla protein. This protein in return prevents calcium formation in tissues. This is how spinach helps in preventing stroke, atherosclerosis and heart problems.
13. Boosts Immunity
Vitamin A present in spinach protects mucous membranes, respiratory, intestinal and urinary tracts. It is also an important component of lymphocytes or WBC or white blood cells and helps in fighting infections. A cup of cooked spinach provides 337% of the required RDA value of this vitamin.
14. Prevents Anemia
Spinach is an excellent source of iron and so it can prevent anemia. It is essential for blood formation and thus is mostly recommended to growing children, adolescents, and menstruating women. Iron being an important component of hemoglobin carries oxygen to all the body cells. It is also low in calories and so preferred over red meat.
So these were so many health benefits of spinach. Try to add it to your diet and get healthy. However it is always recommended to take it in required amounts and never overeat just because you find it healthy and you like it. If you liked reading health benefits of spinach, you may also like reading beauty benefits of spinach for skin and hair as well.
Which of these health benefits of spinach are you aware of?